Langton Matravers becomes Dorset’s first 20 mph village

Twenty will have to be plenty for all traffic through Langton Matravers near Swanage in future, as the village’s fight for a 20 mph zone has finally been won.

Dorset Council approved the long standing application on Wednesday 31st January 2024, allowing the village to become the first in Dorset to bring a lower speed limit into force from April 2024.


Parish councillor Ian Vaughan Arbuckle (right) is getting the village speedwatch team back in action

Speedwatch team will start patrols

New speed signs in Langton Matravers will follow formal notification and a 20 mph zone will be applied to the High Street from Capston Field to Steppes Hill, including the residential streets of Capston Field, Tom’s Field Road, Durnford Drove, Gypshayes, St Georges Close, Steppes and Steppes Hill.

While there won’t be a permanent fixed speed camera, the village’s speedwatch team is likely to start increased patrols from the end of April and drivers of any vehicles travelling above 20 mph will find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

It follows more than a decade of campaigning by Langton Matravers parish councillors, led by Ian Vaughan Arbuckle, including a village survey in which 90 percent of respondents backed a lower speed limit and the formation of a team to record how fast cars were travelling.

The village high street is currently closed to through traffic at Coombe Hill for essential water mains work, but that is expected to be completed by Friday 8th March 2024.

Banners will start to be placed through Langton in February and March to inform residents that change is on the way – and also drivers who use the village as an alternative to the main A351 during busy times of the year.

Langton’s new 20mph village zone will start just before Capston Field

“There can be no excuses”

Parish councillor Ian Vaughan Arbuckle said:

“We are absolutely delighted that after so many years, and with so much village support, we have been successful in getting a 20 miles an hour speed limit for Langton Matravers.

“It is not the whole of the village, but it does cover the area through the centre of Langton that we wanted, where the worst speeding problems are.

“I am keen to get the community speedwatch team up and running again so that we can deploy them more frequently. We will also put banners up through the village and have the new signage so there can be no excuses.”


The limits of the village’s new 20mph zone are shown in blue and include several side roads

The enforceable zone will go right through Langton Matravers to Steppes Hill

Reported at 24 mph or faster

Ian Vaughan Arbuckle added:

“Speeders will be reported at 24 mph and faster, though there will be a period of grace where people speeding will just be warned about their driving – we may let them have one on the house, it will be a difficult change to make.

“But there is no doubt at all that it is necessary, and also very much wanted in the village. A new enforceable limit will undoubtedly improve the quality of life for residents and make the centre of Langton a far safer place.”

Underlining the need to cut speed in the village, a car crashed into a house on the junction of High Street and Crack Lane in the early hours of Sunday 21st January 2024, causing substantial damage, although fortunately not injuring anyone.

It is believed that the car was travelling at speed when the driver swerved to avoid the road closures in place for water main works in the village, and the incident has been reported to the police.

A car believed to be travelling at speed left the High Street near Crack Lane and hit a house

Many residents have been worried about the speed of traffic past the village school for many years

“Some culprits are cyclists”

Vice chair of Langton Matravers parish council, Pete Christie said:

“We are delighted for the residents of the village who have been fighting this for many years. So many villagers, especially the elderly, are scared to cross the street at times because traffic goes so fast down the hill, well in excess of 30.

“We do have a big problem – when we have had meetings with highways officers on other subjects, they have all been shocked at quite how fast traffic comes through the village.

“It’s a very noticeable thing. Some of the main culprits are cyclists, because they are silent, but I am still a bit worried that they won’t think any of the restrictions apply to them.

“The parish council is proud of the work we have all done, but especially Ian Vaughan Arbuckle, who has gone over and above the call of duty over the years, working incredibly hard to get the community speedwatch team out on the streets in all weathers.

“We are delighted that his efforts have been rewarded, a fitting tribute to all that incredible work he has done.”

Winfrith Newburgh has also been given permission for a 20 mph village zone and will apply it from 2025

Winfrith’s idyllic village green has seen some near misses

Winfrith to follow suit in 2025

A second Purbeck community, Winfrith Newburgh, has also been granted permission for a 20 mph zone to keep down speed through its village centre between the church and the main A352, although it is not believed that will come into force until 2025.

Elsewhere in the county, Pimperne and certain town centre streets in Wimborne and Bridport are also being considered for approval.

Together, they make up the first wave of applications for a lower speed limit in communities away from trunk roads since Dorset Council overruled its highways officers and rewrote county rules on speed levels to give greater priority to the safety of pedestrians.

Half a dozen further villages across Dorset have applications in the pipeline, and at least another 40 have expressed interest in lower speed limits since the rules were changed in 2022. Corfe Castle has been surveying residents for their views on whether to apply to make East Street 20 mph.

Residents in Winfrith and many other Purbeck villages say they fear they take their lives into their hands when they cross the road

“Healthier and safer streets”

Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said:

“This initiative is in response to community concerns about road safety and healthy areas in towns and villages.

“We are committed to working with local towns and parishes to promote road safety. Limiting speeds to 20 mph where people walk, live and play is one way people can benefit from streets that are healthier and safer.”

Further information

  • Find out about the UK campaign for more 20mph zones on the 20’s Plenty website

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